Updated: May 9, 2020
Why is sleep important?
Regardless of if you look at things from a Western or Eastern viewpoint sleeping is the time in which our body heals and restores itself. From a Chinese Medicine viewpoint, a good night’s sleep enables the body to replenish its Qi (energy) and cleanse.
If you are one of the many who are suffering the effects of inadequate sleep in our hectic lifestyles you know how much this can impact on your health and the ability to function well on a daily basis.
Looking at the importance of sleep from a Western science perspective we know that we have a growth hormone that gets secreted from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., which means that this is the ideal sleep period. This hormone is secreted in deep dreamless sleep and can help repair the daily toxic insults to our body.
Sleep and Traditional Chinese Medicine
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Gallbladder and Liver’s “optimal functioning and repair time” starts at 11:00 pm and carries through to 3am. For these energetic organs to repair themselves, we need to support them by getting to sleep between 10:00 to 10:30 pm. If you are not asleep during this time the livers ability to cleanse the days toxins is highly impaired.
The Livers other functions from a Traditional Chinese Medicine viewpoint also include storing the blood, which influences our ability to fight off sickness and affects the quality of a female’s menstrual cycle. The Liver also governs the smooth flow of qi through your body. Having a smooth flow of Qi is vital if you want good health as qi is the thing that supports all functions of your body and is essential part of cleansing or removing the toxic waste and bi products from your body.
If you would like to read more about the Chinese Medicine Clock and supporting your sleep you might like to check out our other blog post 'Supporting your Circadian Rhythm'
So, what can you do to support healthy sleep hygiene?
My top 5 for myself are:
1. Establishing a regular relaxing bedtime routine. A warm shower, stretching and reading are all great for slowing day after a fast-paced day. Regular routines establish ‘sleep cues’ for the body allowing it to begin the relaxation process prior to laying down.
2. Limiting screen time prior to bedtime. In our world that is full of phones, tablets and computers the screen is fast becoming an extension of our bodies. Making sure the screens are switched off well before bedtime is optimal for winding down.
3. Establishing adequate exposure to natural light during the day to establish a natural circadian rhythm. Expose yourself to daylight, this is particularly important for office / indoor workers. Incorporate light exercise such as a walk into this routine for additional benefits.
4. Limit with intention to remove caffeinated beverages. Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are all the enemies of a well-rested nights sleep. Definitely avoid and if you can eliminate these 3 nasties from your day to day life.
5. Do not eat close to bedtime as the evening is not optimal time for digestion and can contribute to keeping you awake.
The Sleep Foundation has excellent online resources for sleep hygiene. Check out more by following https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-hygiene
Would you like more advice and support around getting a good night’s sleep? Get in touch today. Contact us online or by phone (03)59061494